30th Annual Davis, Markert, and Nickerson Academic Freedom Lecture
‘Challenges to Academic Freedom in a Changing Landscape, at Home and Abroad.’
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
4 pm – 6 pm
In celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture on Academic and Intellectual Freedom we have invited four renowned panelists for a symposium format lecture.
Robert Family Professor of International Studies, Professor of Anthropology and Middle East Studies, Brown University
Nadje Al-Ali has recently left her long-term position at the Centre for Gender Studies at SOAS University of London to join Brown as the Robert Family Professor of International Studies and Professor of Anthropology and Middle East Studies. Her main research interests revolve around feminist activism and gendered mobilization, mainly with reference to Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and the Kurdish political movement. Her publications include What kind of Liberation? Women and the Occupation of Iraq (2009, University of California Press, co-authored with Nicola Pratt); Women and War in the Middle East: Transnational Perspectives (Zed Books, 2009, co-edited with Nicola Pratt); Iraqi Women: Untold Stories from 1948 to the Present (2007, Zed Books), and Secularism, Gender and the State in the Middle East (Cambridge University Press 2000. Her co-edited book with Deborah al-Najjar entitled We are Iraqis: Aesthetics & Politics in a Time of War (Syracuse University Press) won the 2014 Arab-American book prize for non-fiction. Prof Al-Ali is also a long-term feminist activist in several transnational organizations and initiatives.
Faculty associate at Harvard and adjunct professor at American University. Director of the Dangerous Speech Project.
Susan Benesch founded and directs the Dangerous Speech Project, to study rhetoric that can inspire violence – and to find ways to prevent this without infringing on freedom of expression. To that end, she conducts research on methods to diminish harmful speech online, or the harm itself. She regularly foists related ideas on tech companies, to improve both content moderation and user behavior. Trained as a human rights lawyer at Yale, Susan has worked for NGOs including Amnesty International and Human Rights First. She is an adjunct professor at American University’s School of International Service and hosts monthly dinner concerts at her home in DC.
Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature, Pennsylvania State University
Michael Bérubé is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature and Immediate Past Chair of the University Faculty Senate at Pennsylvania State University, having served as Chair in 2018-19. He is the author of ten books to date, including Public Access: Literary Theory and American Cultural Politics (Verso, 1994); Life As We Know It: A Father, A Family, and an Exceptional Child (Pantheon, 1996; paper, Vintage, 1998); and What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts? Classroom Politics and “ Bias” in Higher Education (W. W. Norton, 2006). Life as We Know It was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year for 1996 and was chosen as one of the best books of the year (on a list of seven) by Maureen Corrigan of National Public Radio.
In 2015 he published The Humanities, Higher Education, and Academic Freedom: Three Necessary Arguments, co-authored with Jennifer Ruth (Palgrave). His ninth book, The Secret Life of Stories: From Don Quixote to Harry Potter, How Understanding Intellectual Disability Transforms the Way We Read; was published by NYU Press in early 2016; in October 2016, Beacon Press published Life as Jamie Knows It: An Exceptional Child Grows Up, which was written with extensive input from Jamie himself.
Professor Bérubé served three terms on the American Association of University Professors’ Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure from 2009 to 2018, two terms on the AAUP National Council from 2005 to 2011, and two terms on the International Advisory Board of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes from 2011 to 2017. In 2012 he was president of the Modern Language Association. From 2010 to 2017, he served as the Director of Penn State’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities.
Professor Emeritus of War and Society in the History Department at Princeton University.
Gross was among the young dissidents called Komandosi, and was among the university students who participated in the protest movement known as the “March Events” – the Polish student and intellectual protests of 1968. Like many Polish students, Gross was expelled from the university, and arrested and jailed for five months. Amidst the anti-Semitic campaign by the Polish communist government, Gross emigrated from Poland to the United States in 1969. In 1975 he earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Yale University. He has taught at Yale, New York University, and in Paris. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen. He has specialized in studies of Polish history and Polish-Jewish relations in Poland. He is the Norman B. Tomlinson ’16 and ’48 Professor of War and Society in the History Department at Princeton University. Gross has held this seat since 2003. Gross is also a Professor of History at Princeton, both positions emeritus.
Associate Professor in the History Department at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and the Director of the Center for Armenian Studies.
She is a historian of war and society, currently working on a comparative history of psychiatric hospitals during World War I. The project, preliminary titled Transnational Lunacy: Madness, Society and Citizenship in a World at War (1914-1920), is funded by the American Council for Learned Society (ACLS) and the International and Area Studies Division of the Nation Endowment for Humanities. Her 2018 monograph, The Charity of War: Famine, Humanitarian Aid and World War I in the Middle East, tells how the Ottoman home front grappled with total war and how it sought to mitigate starvation and sickness through relief activities. Using Ottoman Beirut as a case study, the book examines the wartime activities of the city’s municipal, philanthropic, and religious institutions and organizations, as well as international and state agencies, and reveals a dynamic politics of provisioning that was central to civilian experiences in the war, as well as to the Middle Eastern political landscape that emerged post-war. Prof. Tanielian has been a member of the Armenian Studies Executive Committee since 2012. As part of the committee, she has organized and co-organized several workshops, among them Teaching about Genocide: Approaches and Challenges and Rescue or Internment: Orphans of the Armenian Genocide. In 2015, Prof. Tanielian together with Prof. Kathryn Babayan curated the Francis W. Kelsey Exhibit: ‘Now or Never’: Collecting, Documenting, and Photographing the Aftermath of World War I in the Middle East to commemorate the centenary of the Armenian genocide.
University of Michigan Senate Assembly Resolution Adopted November 19, 1990:
The faculty of the University of Michigan affirms that academic and intellectual freedom are fundamental values for a university in a free society. They form the foundation of the rights of free inquiry, free expression and free dissent that are necessary for the life of the university. The faculty recognizes that such rights are human creations, the product of both the reasoned actions and the deep-seated commitments of women and men. When such actions and commitments are set in human institutions, people may secure for themselves and for others, in the present and the future, the enjoyment of those rights.
We also recognize that these values and the rights they imply are vulnerable to the fads, fashions, social movements and mass fears that threaten to still dissent and to censure carriers of unpopular ideas. Such was the case in 1954 when the University of Michigan suspended three faculty members and subsequently dismissed two of them. We deeply regret the failure of the University community to protect the fundamental values of intellectual freedom at that time. It is to guard against a repetition of those events and to protect the fundamental freedoms of those who come after us that we make this resolution today. The protection of academic and intellectual freedoms requires a constant reminder of their value and vulnerability.
To provide for that reminder, the Faculty of the University of Michigan hereby resolves to establish an Annual Senate Lecture on Academic and on Intellectual Freedom, to be named: The University of Michigan Senate’s Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture on Academic and Intellectual Freedom.